Behind the glitter and glamour of our urban streets
By Debbie Ng, a marketing communications manager at NVPC, who gets a lot of fulfillment working in the non-profit sector. A self-confessed animal lover, she recently started a blog to rehome dogs.
Take a step back and look around you on this tiny island. What likely greets you is an urban environment made up of modern buildings, clean, neat streets and well-dressed people rushing through their busy lives at a frantic pace. How often do you pay attention to the disabled lady outside the train station, trying to make a decent living from selling tissue paper, or the old man pushing a cart laden with cardboard on the busy road?
We do not often take time to think about those who are less fortunate than us and what we can do for them, because we are caught up with our daily lives. The fact is, in Singapore, someone does go hungry every day, even as you and I are enjoying our lunch. Another may be going through a family crisis while another is on the brink of suicide. Others may be struggling with mobility issues.
These situations seem bleak. But, the good news is, they do not have to face this alone. Not if you can lend a helping hand.
Research done by the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) has shown a steady rise in volunteerism from 9.3% in 2000 to 23.3% in 2010. This shows that more people in Singapore are giving their time. But imagine if the remaining 75% stepped forward. So many more could be helped.
Inspiring more people to step up
That is the aim of “Walk with me”, this year’s International Volunteer Day celebrations organised by NVPC. It aims to inspire more people to give by volunteering towards a cause they are passionate about. “Walk with Me” will take you beyond the glitter and glamour of our urban streets to a side of Singapore that is hardly ever seen. Featuring an interactive exhibition showcasing various social needs in Singapore, participants can experience the challenges beneficiaries face daily through hands-on experience, simulation through their five senses and the use of multi-media technologies.
‘Experience with me’ – An Interactive Exhibition
The interactive exhibition, “Experience with Me” covers five areas – Animals and the Environment, Community, Special Needs, Elderly and Health.
The exhibits in the Animals and the Environment feature interesting concepts including a wildlife enclosure by the Animal Concerns and Research Education Society (ACRES), a forest trail by National Parks (NParks) where participants will learn tree tagging, try their hand at guiding and find out about how unique images of animals are captured.
In the Community exhibit, a typical one-room flat in Singapore will be reconstructed. Often, many occupants of one-room flats live in cluttered, accident-prone environments that pose health risks caused by beg bug infestations and lack of personal hygiene. Supported by Thye Hua Kwan Moral Society, participants will experience the living conditions of such flats and learn interesting facts about assistive devices used in these homes.
The area on Special Needs includes experiencing the challenges of the hearing-impaired, physically-handicapped and the visually-handicapped. Participants will learn sign language and lip reading skills taught by the Singapore Association of the Deaf and experience using various handicap assistive devices.
Based on Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s Dialogues in the Dark programme, a dark room will be constructed where participants will use their other senses to go through life without their sense of sight. They will be led by a visually-handicapped guide through various activities in the dark, in various settings including a living room, kitchen and shopping centre.
Participants will also get a chance to experience the ageing process, what it is like to not be ambulant and suffer from common elderly ailments like stroke, gradual loss of sight and touch at the exhibit by Bright Vision Hospital.
The exhibition aims to raise awareness of these needs and inspire participants to pledge their volunteer hours with one or more of the close to 50 non-profit organisations from the five areas, present at the larger exhibition area “Connect with Me”. They can easily do so through pledge cards or online at the event.
Walk, Pitch and Rock for Your Cause
Apart from pledging their hours, participants can inspire others to volunteer towards their preferred cause through a symbolic walk for causes. This is where participants show their support for charity by wearing a T-shirt supporting a cause they are passionate about and rallying others to join them on a walk along Orchard Road, to the event at SCAPE. The walk happens every hour on the hour from 10am to 3pm and is open to anyone who wants to make a difference to the community.
Non-profit organisations will also get a chance to raise awareness for their cause through a live “Fire Pitch”. The pitch will be made to a corporate audience. The two organisations with the most creative or compelling pitch will walk away with sponsored funding for a proposed initiative or programme.
To complete the celebrations, the day will culminate in a rousing rock concert organised by YMCA of Singapore, to appreciate and thank volunteers for all their efforts and contributions towards the community.
Please Walk With Us
“Walk with Me” hopes to bring awareness to Singaporeans of the countless needs in the community we live in and of the fact that we can play a part, even with our busy schedules.
Every bit of effort adds up. Whether you are an individual, a corporate organisation or a charity, you can play a part to give and inspire others to give.